Although he’s never played a down of competitive football in his life, you wouldn’t know it by the way Mark Rosen is revered on the Vikings sidelines.
“Rosieeee!” screams a voice from the TCF Bank Stadium stands, 35 minutes before kickoff on a recent Sunday. “How you doin’?”
Hall of Famer Jim Marshall teases him about the early ’70s, when the once full-haired sportscaster had to lug around his own camera. Comedian Nick Swardson wraps him in a hug. A woman in San Diego Chargers colors asks for a photo while pledging her allegiance, if not to the purple, then at least to the Twin Cities’ most enduring TV personality.
Upstairs in the press box, he’s approached by former Vikings coach Jerry Burns. “Mark,” says the legendary grouch, flashing a rare grin. “I want to be like you someday.”
For young sportscasters clawing their way up the ranks, making that dream a reality has become increasingly hard. With as-it-happens coverage available on your smartphone, local TV sports anchors seem as antiquated as the town crier.
“There was a time the sports guy was bigger than life. That’s no longer the case,” said Don Shafer, news director at San Diego’s XETV, which eliminated its sports department six years ago. Nationwide, most stations have whittled the time for sports updates in half.